Fantasy Mailbag: Will Ryan Kesler keep producing?

Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler (17) takes the puck up ice on a breakaway with San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, center, and Ducks center Nate Thompson, right, trailing on the play during the second period. (Alex Gallardo/AP)

With the NHL trade deadline behind us, the trade deadline for a lot of fantasy leagues are also finished. Managers are looking ahead at playoff lineup adjustments or off-season keeper decisions. The following is a selection of questions that you tweeted @Sportsnet after we put the call out. By all means follow me on Twitter @DobberHockey for even more insight on fantasy hockey.

After 12 points in 36 games to start the season, Kesler has 23 points in 27 games, which pretty much turns the horrible nightmare of a season that he was having into a below-average one.

Fantasy owners would like to know which is the real Ryan Kesler. While I believe he can produce at that 65- to 70-point rate in the playoffs, I think in the regular season he’s closer to being a 55-point guy.

What we’ve seen over the last 27 games is a little bit overstepping for him. He used to be a 70-point player, but lately he saves such performances for the post-season and is unable to sustain it for 82 games.

Unfortunately – unfortunate because I’m so high on him – it has to be Vladimir Tarasenko. You can’t lose the stud combination of Seguin and Benn because they’re elite with a proven track record. I always recommend keeping goaltenders and defencemen if possible, and you have two of the better options here. By process of elimination, Tarasenko has to go.

The only drawback with Barkov is health. At this point I consider him a 65-game player. If you have a flexible injured reserve in your league, then yes, I would keep him over Kessel. That being said – I’d keep Kessel over Logan Couture. To me, Couture is your drop. Career high is 67 points, but he’s been injured two out of the last three seasons. His upside is not as high as Barkov’s or Kessel’s.

I’m not the biggest Jason Pominville fan out there and I do feel he is in a decline career-wise. However, I can’t deny that he’s one of the hottest players out there. That’s who you want in the final month. Under John Torchetti, Pominville has been awesome.

Steve Mason: He has been good for the Flyers, but prone to injury. His save percentage has been average to above-average over three years, but he hasn’t pickued up wins because the team isn’t scoring goals.

Meanwhile, Michael Neuvirth has been even better, albeit for one season. But Neuvirth has also been injury prone, which makes this situation even murkier. Mason has a contract year next season, but because he’s making more than double than Neuvirth, Mason will get handed the ball to run with.

In the end, you’ll see numbers very similar to 2014-15 with a few more wins if Philadelphia improves in the off-season. Long term, the bigger threat to Mason is Anthony Stolarz. He’s getting to that age when graduation to the NHL is close and he’s made big strides in the AHL.

Semyon Varlamov: The Varlamov situation is much more cut and dry. Yes, he’s had a weak season, and yes, Calvin Pickard is a good prospect who has been better than Varlamov this year. But Varlamov is signed for another three seasons with an annual cap hit of $5.9 million. There’s no way the Avalanche let that money rot on the bench. Only an injury could cost him his job. He’s safe.

Absolutely not. I think you can do much, much better. Giroux is a proven and consistent point-per-game keeper, while Wheeler is taking that next step into becoming similar.

In the case of Jordan Eberle and Sean Monahan, you only ‘hope’ that they become what Giroux and Wheeler already are. If you’re rebuilding, then I would expect at least a couple of high draft picks over and above Eberle and Monahan.

Keep Miller. Not only is he taking that next step but he also has higher upside. Jean-Gabriel Pageau is holding the hot stick right now which should help his trade value.

That’s a good question. Yes, his success has been tied to Tampa Bay’s positive results, but Bishop now has quite the track record.

So while he might not sign back with the Lightning, there will be no shortage of teams ready to sign him to a longer term at a high cap hit. He’s been so good that it wouldn’t surprise me to see Tampa Bay re-sign him and force Vasilevskiy to wait longer (much like Cory Schneider with Vancouver, or Jonathan Bernier with Los Angeles).

Long story short – Bishop will be a top fantasy goalie for several years yet.

I’m still firmly entrenched in the Frederik Andersen camp. Gibson has a legion of fantasy owners who are huge fans, so to me that’s just an opportunity – I’ll gladly trade Gibson to them for Andersen and extra assets.

Connor McDavid, Marc-Andre Fleury, Cory Schneider and John Klingberg. I would consider Kris Letang over Schneider but he’s too injury prone. I also like to make sure that I’m safe when it comes to goaltending and defencemen.

Take a look at the new Hot/Not tool that I have over at DobberHockey, or customize the Hot/Not players yourself here.

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